Excitement for a specialty grocery store on Libertyville's south end has rekindled years after a different plan failed and the partially completed building was torn down.
Although early in the process, village officials again are primed for an economic boost that such a venture would bring to a 3-acre site on Milwaukee Avenue and Artaius Parkway, once occupied by Frank's Nursery & Crafts.
The name of the potential company has not been released but lease negotiations continue with what could be a substantial development for Libertyville. And, the general description provided in documents submitted to the village, as well as initial estimates of the sales tax it could generate, make it appear to be a solid prospect.
Preliminary figures submitted to the village estimate the development would generate nearly $675,000 in sales tax revenue and nearly $23,000 in increased property taxes for Libertyville in 2013. Accumulated revenues from those sources could amount to more than $16 million by 2023, according to the proposal.
"This one is a very big deal for the village," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development director. "We had a lot of expectations when we tried to redevelop it in the past."
Paragon Real Estate LLC of Oak Brook, which acquires, develops and manages retail properties, is seeking village approvals to develop a 12,450-square-foot specialty grocery and an 8,100-square-foot multi-tenant building. The Sherwin-Williams Company is the only named user for the multi-tenant building.
In its application, Paragon said it has a letter of intent and is negotiating a lease with a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in California that has 400 stores in 32 states and $8 billion in sales. The store would offer "high end and unique foods," according to the plan.
If they know who the company is, village officials aren't saying.
"We don't know what's coming in right now. They won't tell us," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "We're working with the developer."
Attorney Scott M. Day, representing Paragon, said the he was not authorized to release any information regarding the grocery store.
"We are very optimistic and hopeful we'll have that for the public hearing," he said.
A building permit for a proposed $10 million Fresh Foods grocery store was first issued by the village in 2007. Eventually, a steel skeleton was erected but the project stalled. The building was demolished and what is regarded as a prime retail site was cleared in early 2010. Village officials last summer approved a settlement that ended its legal involvement in the failed venture.
In the interim, Mariano's Fresh Market opened across the street west of Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills, snaring sales tax dollars from Libertyville stores.
Mariano's has been so successful the company said it thinks it is losing business due to customers not being able to find a parking space.
"That's not a bad problem to have," Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne said. Vernon Hills officials on Tuesday informally approved the addition of 134 more parking spaces on two outlots for Mariano's.
Rowe said Libertyville has continued to press for a "substantial user" for the former Frank's property.
The proposal is scheduled for a hearing Sept. 24 before the village's plan commission and zoning board.